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J Mol Biol. 2002 May 3;318(3):889-900.

Interactions between bacterial flagellar axial proteins in their monomeric state in solution.

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Protonic NanoMachine Project, ERATO, JST, 3-4 Hikaridai, Seika, Kyoto 619-0237, Japan.


The axial structure of the bacterial flagellum is composed of many different proteins, such as hook protein and flagellin, and each protein forms a short or long axial segment one after another in a well-defined order along the axis. Under physiological conditions, most of these proteins are stable in the monomeric state in solution, and spontaneous polymerization appears to be suppressed, as demonstrated clearly for flagellin, probably to avoid undesirable self-assembly in the cytoplasmic space. However, no systematic studies of the possible associations between monomeric axial proteins in solution have been carried out. We therefore studied self and cross-association between hook protein, flagellin and three hook-associated proteins, HAP1, HAP2 and HAP3, in all possible pairs, by gel-filtration and analytical centrifugation, and found interactions in the following two cases only. Flagellin facilitated HAP3 aggregation into beta-amyloid-like filaments, but without stable binding between the two. Addition of HAP3 to HAP2 resulted in disassembly of preformed HAP2 decamers and formation of stable HAP2-HAP3 heterodimers. HAP2 missing either of its disordered terminal regions did not form the heterodimer, whereas HAP3 missing either of its disordered terminal regions showed stable heterodimer formation. This polarity in the heterodimer interactions suggests that the interactions between HAP2 and HAP3 in solution are basically the same as those in the flagellar axial structure. We discuss these results in relation to the assembly mechanism of the flagellum.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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